PAPER FLOW: ANGELA GLAJCAR AT PROJECT ATRIUM
One wouldn’t think that a bunch of sheets of paper strung together would make anything more interesting than a notebook … or a book … or a journal. That’s not the case when it comes to sculptor Angela Glajcar, however.
Born in Mainz, Germany, Glajcar has shown her paper-produced works everywhere from Mexico to Milan to Miami.
The artist’s latest effort in her long-running Terforation series, which she began in 2005, brings the quadragenarian to Northeast Florida for the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville’s 12th exhibition in its Project Atrium series.
“She’s really introducing a two-dimensional medium into a three-dimensional genre,” MOCA’s Assistant Curator Jaime DeSimone explains of Glajcar’s work. “It’s so strange because the paper almost plays tricks on your eyes. You don’t see it at first. They look like solid forms, so she’s really pushing their physical properties.”
According to DeSimone (Glajcar wasn’t available for interviews), the artist, who lives in Germany still, starts every project by purchasing large sheets of industrial-grade paper from some of the oldest paper mills in Europe.
“It’s actually quite a sturdy paper that you’d use for watercolor painting,” says DeSimone. “She always wants [each] sheet to have the same weight, the same grade and the same texture. It’s all very evenly cut. Each sheet is the same size. She’s the one removing parts of it.”
All of Glajcar’s pieces in her Terforation series are site-specific, which simply means that she creates work based on the room that it will inhabit. For MOCA’s Project Atrium exhibit, Glajcar was sent photographs of the gallery space as well as floor plans and dimensions.
Glajcar never once visited Jacksonville before her arrival to install the sculpture.
“Over in her studio in Germany, she created a small model and was working on determining the final shape of the forms, their lengths and where she would tear the papers,” explains DeSimone. “She tore all the pieces in her studio — over 300 sheets — then shipped them here with the hardware needed for installation.”
The result is a monumental, two-part paper sculpture that hangs — one piece atop another — from the ceiling of MOCA’s Atrium. It’s a sweeping, block-like form taking advantage of the verticality of the space as well as playing with the viewer’s ideas of perception.
“As you turn a corner or go up a staircase, they kind of reveal themselves in this unfolded, book-like fashion where you’d want to run your hands along them,” DeSimone says. “You can really see how the use of paper and air are an equal combination to create this final mass.”
Lighting is also a big component of Glajcar’s work — specifically, the difference between natural and artificial light.
“You can watch the piece change throughout the day. Its lifespan is different. Its colors are different. It’s almost a chameleon to the space that it’s in,” DeSimone says. “It absorbs the light. It changes. Parts glow with this sense of a yellow-peach.”
Glajcar is by no means the first artist to use paper as a medium.
In an August 2014 CNN article, “Astonishing sculptures made from nothing but plain paper,” journalist Jake Wallis Simons wrote, “For most people, paper is used in printers, for random notes or occasional doodles. However, artists across the globe are taking the ancient material to a whole new level, fashioning everything from 3-D sculptures to intricate cut-outs.”
Glajcar, who has always been a three-dimensional thinker (she has no previous experience in painting or drawing), doesn’t use preparatory drawings to conceptualize her work. She relies solely on the paper itself, as she crafts her sculpture.
“It takes your breath away. It’s so elegant to look at. Your eyes just want to explore each and every part and understand it,” DeSimone says of the piece currently hanging at MOCAJax.
Glajcar’s exhibition, which opened March 28, will become nothing more than archival photographs and memories for MOCA museum-goers when it’s taken down June 28. The 300 or so sheets of paper will be sent to the artist’s studio, to be scrapped or whittled down to make small-scale models for future projects.
“I was shocked how she was able, through this sculpture, to really change the whole feeling within the Atrium,” says DeSimone. “It is really a metamorphosis of the space unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”